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US Missile Tracker Clears Design Review

L3Harris Moves on to Satellite Development with $193 Million Contract

L3Harris has completed critical design review for the missile-tracking programme it is working on for the US Space Development Agency (SDA), and has begun development and integration work on four spacecraft for the system.

The work takes place under a contract referred to as Tracking Layer Tranche 0, valued at $193 million (€170 million). The fixed-price deal was signed in 2020 and the contract runs until 2025. The build, integration and test phases follow the successful design review, and the company says the launch phase will take place early in 2023. Separately, the company is also developing a prototype for the US Missile Defense Agency’s hypersonic and ballistic tracking space sensor.

The SDA says its tracking layer programme “will provide global indications, warning, tracking, and targeting of advanced missile threats, including hypersonic missile systems.” The capability will involve data processing and fusion, algorithms and “tactical data products,” as well as space-based sensor systems. The programme has prioritised cost reduction alongside minimising size, weight and power consumption, and lines of development within the project include investigation of novel sensing technologies and an emphasis on cybersecurity.

Rapid deployment programs, such as this one, demonstrate early missile warning and tracking missions can be efficient, affordable, and developed at a pace that keeps up with emerging threats,” commented Ed Zoiss, President of L3Harris’ Space and Airborne Systems Division. “L3Harris purchased subsystems and other material and began building while completing the design to demonstrate speed to deployment.


An impression of one of the spacecraft to be built under the Tracking Layer Tranche 0 programme. (Image: L3Harris)

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